Jesus told us that people will know we are His disciples if we love one another (John 13:35). He also instructed us to go out and make disciples of all nations. (Matthew 28:19). How is that going in your life? Maybe you give frequent witness to your faith through your words and actions. Or maybe you feel nervous or embarrassed if people know you are Catholic. No matter where you are in your evangelization journey, it is good to pause and consider the witness we are giving, and how we can better bring Christ to others in our lives.
Fr. Kyle Manno, vocations director for the Diocese of Rockford, stopped by The Inner Life® this week to discuss being a witness for Christ, and pointed out that being Christ to others is not a job reserved for a few, but the call of each one of us.
“People think that to be a witness for Christ is the job of the priest, or the job of a religious, or somebody who’s on the radio, right? That’s their job,” Fr. Manno said. “But no, we are baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. We have His power, His glory. And Jesus said, in the Gospels, that we will do greater things than Him. And so He’s calling every single person to go out there to spread the Good News, and bring Christ to other people.”
Chuck Neff, host of The Inner Life, pointed out that it’s not always easy to be a witness when we are surrounded by people who disagree with our faith or our way of life. When it comes to family members or co-workers who don’t see things in the light of faith, it can be an opportunity for friction. But Fr. Manno encouraged people to look to the example of Jesus in these situations.
“What’s really important in witnessing to Christ is being Christ among them, showing them that love, and then doing what Jesus did. He first encountered them, He experienced who they were, and then once that relationship was established He could then love them and give them the truth. And so I really think people need to see in our family those closer relationships. The first building block of being a witness is just getting to know [someone] and entering into relationship.”
Many people might feel embarrassed, or awkward, or don’t even know where to start when it comes to sharing Christ with others. They fear they may be rejected or shunned. And while Jesus told us that might happen, Fr. Manno emphasized that we can’t be afraid. He even offered a suggestion for dipping your toes into the waters of public witness.
“A very simple thing I recommend to people is that when you go to the store and you’re in the checkout line, when you’re leaving, instead of saying ‘Goodbye’ say ‘God bless you.’ It’s amazing. I started doing this when I was in college, saying ‘God bless you’ to people as opposed to just ‘Goodbye.'”
“And really, you get one of two reactions.” Fr. Manno explained. “Typically, people just go, ‘Thanks’ and you walk away. And everyone’s okay, right? Nobody died. We’re all OK. Or they kind of perk up and they go, ‘Oh, thank you. God bless you, too.’ And you can see from the response, something opened up inside of them. So a really easy, practical thing people can do is start saying ‘God bless you,’ when they leave the store. And even when they leave their family events, because you’re already planting those seeds to let people know this is a place that we can talk about our faith, and we can talk about God.”